- While applicant tracking systems are "vital" to the work of recruiters, ATS algorithms could be responsible for excluding whole segments of viable candidates, according to a report from the Harvard Business School and Accenture. Of employers surveyed, 88% said that qualified, high-skilled candidates were rejected outright from the hiring process because they did not exactly match the hiring criteria; 94% said the same about middle-skilled candidates, according to the report.
- Employers that take steps to engage "hidden workers" usually do so through corporate social responsibility efforts — a move that, while well-intentioned, "inherently reinforce[s] the myth that hiring hidden workers is an act of charity or corporate citizenship, rather than a source of competitive advantage," the report said.
- To ameliorate the issue, the report suggested employers shift ATS filters from "negative" to "affirmative." For example, instead of filtering out candidates that do not have a particular degree or who have a gap in their employment history, platforms should be configured to search for candidates that have select skills and experiences to fulfill core requirements.
As stated in the report, recruiters rely on ATS to manage large volumes of candidates — but without careful attention to how candidates are analyzed, employers could make an already difficult job even harder.
Data analysis is especially integral to improving D&I efforts in recruiting, experts recently explained to HR Dive. For some companies, that effort may begin at initial collecting and collating stages, particularly at the top of the candidate funnel. Such analysis often reveals that traditional sources of recruitment — including those relied upon by ATS to determine candidate fit — could inherently limit diversity.
Certain industries struggle more than others to find talent, especially manufacturing, retail and food service. While a Conference Board report suggested labor shortages could ease toward the end of 2021, the job situation has become complicated due to the emergence of coronavirus variants, including delta.
The Harvard study is not the first to examine inequity inherent in the recruiting process and its causes. One 2019 study showed that asymmetries in how certain positions are hired — such as via a job board for lower-level positions and LinkedIn networking for higher-level positions — can further perpetuate inequality and limit options for recruiters. As they grapple with a fluctuating job market, employers may want to take time to examine their ATS and recruiting strategies.